I don’t know if Pekka Rinne, who retired from the NHL on Tuesday after 15 years with the Nashville Predators, will end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The odds are not exactly in his favor, as he’s behind some other incredible goaltending talent still waiting to get in.
But of this I have no doubts: Pekka Rinne is the greatest Nashville Predators player in franchise history. Hall of Fame or not, he’s the best to ever play the game in Nashville.
And it’s not debatable.
Rinne finishes his career with 369 wins, 60 shutouts, and a .917 save percentage, to go along with 45 playoff wins, a well deserved Vezina Trophy, a Presidents’ Trophy, a Western Conference Championship, and countless other accolades, endorsements, and awards.
He’s the peak of the sport. The pillar of a franchise. The quintessential teammate. The model of a citizen.
And now Pekka Rinne’s career, with its many highlights and memorable moments, has ended.
Pekka Rinne retires after 15 seasons with Preds
After a “major press announcement” was teased by the Predators’ front office on Monday, it was revealed on Tuesday morning that Pekka Rinne would be retiring from the NHL.
Nashville Predators goaltender and franchise icon Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL today following a decorated 15-year career.https://t.co/Gtit6GmweO
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 13, 2021
From the article above, where Pekka Rinne expresses gratitude for his career in Nashville:
“For more than 15 years, I’ve been on an incredible, life-changing journey with the Nashville Predators that has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and given me more than I could ever hope to give back… This decision wasn’t easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time. As I announce my retirement, I’m thankful for my parents, sisters, fiancé Erika, everyone in the Predators organization – management, coaches and trainers – my teammates and my youth coaches back in Finland. Last but not least, I’m thankful for the people of Nashville. Each of you helped me grow into the man, father and person I am today.”
Many people saw this coming, especially after the incredible “final home start” for Rinne on May 10th against the Carolina Hurricanes. Following his 30 save shutout and the Preds’ 5-0 win (note that I delighted in pointing out the 30 + 5 = 35 numerology in that final score), Pekka Rinne took a well deserved lap around Bridgestone Arena for the final time.
Well, almost the final time…. a couple weeks later, the Preds were eliminated and this was his actual final lap.
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) May 28, 2021
But who wants to go out on a loss? Everyone will always remember Pekka Rinne’s final start on May 10th. So rarely do NHL players get such a perfect sendoff.
A perfect ending to a perfect career for a perfect player.
Rinne leaves epic highlight reel of accomplishments
No Nashville Predators player has a highlight reel that looks anything like Pekka Rinne’s. Sure, Filip Forsberg has some incredible goals. Shea Weber had some inspiring moments. Roman Josi is an awe-inspiring human with incredible athletic gifts.
But it would take an hour or more of footage to show all of Rinne’s incredible achievements, his other worldly saves, his next level clutch moments, and his off-the-ice impact in the Nashville community.
I managed to narrow it down to five of his biggest in this highlight package, which you should definitely check out:
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) May 10, 2021
But even that two minute reel feels anemic when compared to everything Rinne has done in his career.
Here’s some of my favorite highlights from Rinne’s career:
- He was drafted in the 8th round of the NHL Draft, a round that doesn’t even exist anymore.
- In Game 7 of their 2016 playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks (the first Game 7 in Preds history), Pekka Rinne had 36 saves to move the Preds to the next round.
- Pekka Rinne stopped 151 of 160 shots (.944 save percentage) in the 2012 series against Detroit, beating them in five games, and pushing the Preds past their long time rival for the first time ever.
- The knob save.
- 59 saves in two shutout games against Chicago in the first round in 2017. Still can’t believe that happened. Pekka Rinne made sure Preds fans didn’t hear “Chelsea Dagger” (the Blackhawks’ goal song) once in that playoff series.
- Pekka Rinne had 212 career games with at least 30 saves, which ranks 22nd most all-time. Tomas Voukoun had 111. Juuse Saros has 54 so far.
- That time Rinne said shutting out the Blackhawks was the easiest shutout of his career (he didn’t have many “heel” moments, but this was a nice one)
- That time Rinne bought out every flashlight in a store to help people in Nashville recovering from the March 2020 tornadoes.
- Every single post game interview where Pekka Rinne answered every single question from every single reporter, without fail.
- His smile… nothing beats it.
It will be a very long time before the Nashville Predators have another player with the caliber of Pekka Rinne. It may never happen.
The good news for Preds fans is that, according to this wonderful story he wrote in The Player’s Tribune, you will still see him around. He finished the story with this warm note:
“All I can say is thank you, and I’ll see you again.”
Pekka Rinne, Nashville legend, not saying goodbye, but saying “until next time.”
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —